I Will Remember
My heart hurt today. I'm not normally a big softie, but when we took my youngest daughter by Mark Twain Elementary for her kindergarten orientation, I was reminded of an event and a time and a place that I had not thought of in forever. You're probably gonna laugh at me (this happens a lot), but the event I'm talking about is the distinct moment when my voice changed. The place was the stage at Mark Twain Elementary School in Hannibal.
Anyone that knows me know probably can't imagine this, but I used to be quite the singer. I remember when I was in grade school, I couldn't understand why professional singers got paid so much. Singing (then) was easy. I could do this stuff in my sleep...no sweat.
Then came sixth grade. I will never forget the moment as long as I live. I was on the back right of the stage on the riser and a sound came out of my throat that was shocking and unexpected. The boy who for years had the voice of a redheaded songbird let loose a crackling severely out-of-tune utterance that I could tell scared people at least twelve rows back. It had happened. It was my Peter Brady moment.
Every guy has gone through it. Mine just seemed to be made more memorable due to the fact that it happened as I was singing very loudly...in front of an auditorium of people. I remember the stunned silence of parents at Mark Twain Elementary as they witnessed me pass from boyhood to...well...not quite manhood.
As I saw that stage again today, I remembered that moment. And, then sadness set in as I started to think about the fact that this stage (and the rest of the school) would be demolished this summer when the new Mark Twain Elementary is opened. Mark Twain Elementary 2.0.
I have forgotten a lot of things from my childhood. But, I haven't forgotten that moment (many) years ago at Mark Twain Elementary when my then-innocent voice began the change to the gnarly man growling it is today. And, soon, it will be a gone...replaced by a better place with a brand new crop of kids, some of whom will have their voices change in hopefully the same spectacular way that mine did.
That school of my youth will be gone. So many friends and wonderful teachers who tried to stop me from becoming the radio monster that I am have come and gone. Don't blame them. They tried. The school will be gone. But, I will remember.